Pune, March 24 (PTI)—India opener Shikhar Dhawan, who hit a match-winning 98 in the first ODI against England after warming the bench for the major part of the T20 series, said international cricket is all about pressure and he knows how to handle it.
Having lost his place in the T20 playing XI, Dhawan was under pressure to perform in the opening ODI, with India spoilt for choices in all batting positions.
"In international cricket, the pressure is always there and the good thing is as a (an) experienced player, I know how to handle it," Dhawan said at the post-match press conference. "I know what shots to play on what wickets. We read the wicket nicely and communicate in the batting unit, and that's what we did and worked for us."
"Of course, once I got set, I have a lot of shots that I can get my runs," he added.
Dhawan, who was benched after the first T20 of the five-match series, explained how he kept himself positive when things were not going his way.
"I kept myself quite positive when I wasn't playing in the T20 series. I was focusing on my process, fitness, skill-work, gym-work and I always stay in a positive mental space," he said. "I always try look at the positives in every situation. That's what I was doing. I was working on my batting. I knew, if I got an opportunity, I'll take it."
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Dhawan also said that the wicket at the MCA stadium on Tuesday was seaming and swinging. "It wouldn't have made any sense if you would have gone hard at the start, losing a few wickets, so our plan was just stay on the wicket and respect the good deliveries."
"We knew that both of us, Rohit and me, can always cash those runs later on. The wicket could have been a bit more supportive for the batsmen, but in the end we managed to score a big total," he added.
The opener also had words of praise for the young players who have come into the side and spoke about how the IPL has helped them.
"The new players who have come into the side are confident because they play so many domestic games and IPL. They share dressing rooms with big players, play against them—that builds confidence and they feel they are the same players at the international level.
"There are top-notch coaches there, so the IPL exposure helps a lot, and our domestic cricket is strong. It is because of a good mix of these two factors that the new players are performing. Whenever the team transition happens, the changes won't be felt too much," the 35-year-old Delhi player noted.
Dhawan also lavished praise on debutants Krunal Pandya and pacer Prasidh Krishna. "It was a great team effort. Especially by Prasidh, the pace he was bowling, the bounce he was getting, he was rushing the batsman, that was great to see, especially in his first match as a debutant," he said.
"Even Krunal Pandya did really well as a debutant. And with Shardul (Thakur), his confidence has gone quite up. I feel he is a very smart cricketer, he reads the game quite well."
KL Rahul was also back among the runs after a lean patch in the T20 series and Dhawan said the knock will be a confidence booster for the Karnataka player.
"He is a class player. A few innings here and there—that happens with every cricketer, it only makes a champion player much stronger.
"The way he came back today and in the end he and Krunal took us above 300... I am sure this knock would have brought a lot of confidence to KL and you will see him playing more fluently and getting those beautiful shots on the field," said Dhawan.
Courtesy the win, India took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. The second game will be played at the same venue on Friday. PTI NRB AH AH